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Today we travel to to the south coast of England to chat with Carol Thomas about how teaching in primary schools, being a collector of conversation snippets, a snowy woodland, being a volunteer, and The Flumps come to together as part of Carol’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live on the south coast of England with my husband, four children and lively Labrador. I have been a playgroup supervisor and taught in primary schools for over fifteen years, before dedicating more of my time to writing. In the summer of 2017, I was delighted to gain a publishing contract with Ruby Fiction, an imprint of Choc Lit, for my romantic comedy novel, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, the first in the Lisa Blake series. Maybe Baby, the second in the series, was published a year later.
I have a passion for reading, writing and people watching, and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on my next book.
In which genres do you write?
I write for adults and children: My contemporary romance novels have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads. While my children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters, young children can relate to.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I am a collector of snippets of conversation that make me smile. I note them down and then slip them into my writing. This is especially useful when writing romantic comedy because I feel it adds an element of authenticity to the dialogue.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
Light, bright and airy, preferably with a good view. Some years ago, we looked at houses in Canada as we were contemplating moving there. One house was perfect and had a wonderful office. We visited in winter, and so the view looked out across snowy woodland. I like to imagine myself sitting in that window, writing. We didn’t make the move, so I am often found writing in local cafes; it’s not quite the same.
What are you currently reading?
I have just finished Mhairi McFarlane’s If I Never Met You. I love the author’s completely relatable characters and the very natural way they interact with each other. I also really enjoy the author’s ability to sum up a situation in a single and perfectly apt sentence.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself:
Growing up, I preferred playing with toy cars to reading books.
I hated school and then became a teacher.
I was a teen mum, and the birth of my daughter changed my life and gave me the drive to want to be more and do better.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
Maybe Baby is a romantic comedy and the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter. I wrote it because I had more I wanted to share about the characters. I also like exploring relationships beyond the happy ever after moment – seeing how characters react as a couple when faced with different situations. I have been with my husband for twenty-nine years, and so I appreciate that how you meet new challenges is an important aspect of maintaining a long-term relationship.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I am a volunteer at my local Cancer Research shop. Being a writer necessitates many hours spent alone with my characters, I think it’s important to go out and interact with real people too. This role enables me to do that, as well as to support the charity.
I’m also currently working as a Teaching Assistant in a local school. This is because I miss teaching and wanted to get back into the classroom. It has been lovely, and I am fortunate to be working in a great class in a very supportive and welcoming school. But, shh, don’t tell my colleagues about the collecting snippets of conversation thing, or they’ll think I am spying on them 😉
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
I love the fact that writing allows you to create a fictional world where characters, who become your friends, interact and take on a life of their own. When it is all coming together, when the writing is flowing and the purpose of every character, every scene and interaction becomes clear, it is an amazing feeling.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Honestly, I don’t miss anything about being a child. If I could return to a time in my life, it would be around twenty-six – after I had got my degree and when I first started teaching. It was a wonderful time. I was happy, thin (ah there was a time) young and full of self-confidence.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I am a child of the seventies, and so there are some genuinely crazy worlds to choose from. Though not a cartoon, I would choose The Flumps, I liked the fact they were all one happy family, and they seemed to have a good pace of life.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I go to the cinema regularly, generally once or twice a week, this weekend I saw Harley Quinn, as I had seen the first, and I like Margot Robbie as an actor. I also saw Dolittle with my children. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it, but it was very good, entertaining and quirky – though it has made me want to befriend a polar bear.
Tell us about your most recent book.
Maybe Baby is the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1), published by Ruby Fiction. While each book can be read as a standalone story, Maybe Baby revisits the characters readers have enjoyed in The Purrfect Pet Sitter as they move into the next phase of their lives.
It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, Carol. I love that you collect conversation snippets. I used to do that more often, and think I’ll return to that practice. All the best to you! –Camilla
Maybe Baby is the story of what happens after the happy ever after …
Lisa Blake is back with her first love, she’s reunited with her best friend Felicity, and life is looking good; even her pet sitting skills are improving – everybody knows you can’t believe all you read in the local Gazette, don’t they?
Felicity is on the cusp of achieving her perfect wife-mum-life balance; Her husband, Pete, is being wonderfully attentive, and her four children are getting older and wiser (sometimes too much wiser) by the day.
But with secrets to be revealed and discoveries to be made, it seems life is full of unexpected surprises!